I’ve always been a let’s wait and see, go with the flow kinda girl. Every once in a while though I get something in my head, and boy can I be stubborn. It’s just how I am. After 30-some years I’ve come to know myself pretty well. I was very aware of this particular personality glitch, as I like to call it, when I decided I wanted to try a natural birth. I knew that it would be very easy to become dangerously stubborn about it…so I read. I read about BOTH sides of the coin – medicated and unmedicated births.
The most helpful thing for me was reading other women’s birth stories. I must have read hundreds. Doing so really gives you an idea of how differently things happen to every single one of us, and for me it brought into perspective the fact that clinging to only one way of doing things was foolish and could potentially be dangerous.
I wanted a natural birth for a few reasons. I didn’t trust anesthesia, having reacted badly to the localized kind – I almost passed out twice from it. I hardly ever take any kind of drugs, not even pain pills because I like to be aware of what my body is telling me. I wanted to experience my son’s birth in the most real way possible and I had seen the elation, relief and intense joy that follows a natural birth.
When my water broke at 10pm one week before his due date with absolutely no previous contractions I knew my dream of a natural birth had just taken a severe nosedive. The countdown had started and if he didn’t come inside of 24 hours, all kinds of interventions could easily follow. And boy, did they! After 24 hours I had dilated to two centimeters. TWO. Exhausted from waiting and knowing my energy was draining rapidly, I consented to small amounts of Pitosin around 6pm. That did a whole lot of nothing so we upped it, and by 10pm I had reached the two centimeters mark with the early labor Pitosin contractions feeling much more like active labor.
The very real likelihood of another 24 hours of labor terrified me so next came the epidural. As per my request they gave me the lowest dose possible and I LOVED it. If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of a natural birth but don’t quite know if it’s for you, I highly recommend a walking epidural. It took the edge off but I was still able to move my legs, and while I was too exhausted to try it I’m sure I would have been able to stand and possibly even walk. Instead I was able to ignore the contractions just enough to fall into an exhausted sleep.
The nurse came in around 2:30, and I could tell something was wrong. She couldn’t find his heartbeat. When I realized what was happening my first thought was “take him out now” all thoughts of my ideal birth out the window, replaced by the fierce need to have him safely in my arms… like NOW. They finally found his heartbeat, and it was so slow they had confused it with mine. They checked me and because I was barely at four centimeters, the doctor recommended an immediate C-section. All I could think was, “Oh thank God!!! Hurry!”
I knew the epidural might have caused the decreased heart rate as it’s been known to do, and he was likely fine, but I had absolutely NO desire to take any chances with my baby’s life. At 3:17 Jacob Anthony Carrier came into this world via C-section, and it was the single most glorious moment of my life. I will be eternally grateful for the impeccable care and patience of the Woman’s Hospital staff and my super understanding, go with the flow, let’s wait and see OB Dr. Amanda Pearson. I can not recommend her enough.
If you’re like me and want a natural birth I’d like to say one thing. Know that the hospital and doctors want the same thing you want: to ultimately deliver your baby safely into your arms. I’ve read many natural birth attempt stories that seek to find a scapegoat to blame for a failed birth plan, and sadly, that scapegoat usually ends up being the hospital or the doctors. And while cases of true negligence do exist, they are rare. Do not be afraid of your nurses, do not be in opposition with your doctor. Communicate clearly, and be willing to embrace the help that they can offer you when things aren’t going according to plan. All in all, what’s most important is what comes after the birthing.